Mr Albert George Ervine was born in Clifton in north Belfast, Co Antrim, Ireland (modern-day Northern Ireland) on 2 August 1893.
He was the son of Albert Ervine (b. 1860), a poor rate collector, and Helen Jane Gowans (b. 1862). His mother was born in Perthshire, Scotland and his father was from Co Down and they had married around 1887.
Albert had five siblings: William Gowans (1887-1973), Emilie Margarite (b. 1889), Helen Clement (b. 1897), Maxwell Clement (b. 1900) and Basil Sidney (b. 1905).
Albert's family were Brethrens--conservative and non-conformist Evangelical Christians--but on census records stated no denomination or "commonly known as Brethren". On the 1911 census Albert would identify as a Protestant, perhaps to identify himself as a unionist when, at the time, Ireland was on the verge of the "Home Rule Crisis".
Albert first appears on the 1901 census of Ireland; the family were then living at 1 Old Cavehill Road, North Belfast in the Clifton ward. He was educated at the nearby Belfast Royal Academy, followed by the Methodist (Methody) College in South Belfast, and then the Municipal Technical Institute. He spent part of his apprenticeship with Coombe, Barber & Coombe before going to the Harland & Wolff shipyard to study marine electronics. By the time of the 1911 census Albert and his family were living at 16 Old Cavehill Road, Belfast and he was described as an unmarried electrician.
Ervine was engaged upon electrical work on the Titanic during her construction and also on the Orient Line's Maloja. He served on board the Maloja during her maiden voyage and then joined the White Star Line, being appointed to the Titanic alongside his friend Alfred Pirrie Middleton, assistant electrician who, like Albert, was a member of the Brethren. Indeed, both men reportedly petitioned the White Star line to be transferred to the Titanic together for her maiden voyage.
Ervine was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip to Southampton and when he signed on again in Southampton on 6 April 1912 Albert gave his address as Merryfield, Belfast and his previous ship as the Maloja. As electrician he could expect monthly wages of £8. At 18-years-old he was the youngest among the engineering department.
Aboard Titanic he penned his mother a letter which was posted in Queenstown. In it he described the near-New York collision (although he incorrectly identified the ship as Oceanic) from his vantage point at the top of the aft funnel, and also the testing of the watertight doors. He went on to reassure his family that the Titanic could not sink, such was her fortification.
Ervine died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
The following memorial appeared to Albert in the Belfast Newsletter on 15 April 1913:
ERVINE--In loving memory of Bertie, the loving and beloved son of Albert and Helene Jane Ervine, who perished with the S.S. Titanic in Mid-Atlantic on 15th April, 1912.
"O the depth of theniches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out!"--Rom., xi, 33.
In the 1930s Albert's parents upped and left Northern Ireland whilst both in their 70s, following their son William who had migrated in the early 1920s when he settled in Baltimore; they settled in St Petersburg, Florida; his mother died there in 1942 and was buried in Royal Palm South Cemetery.
William, Albert's brother, was married and had a son named Albert William Gowans (b. 1922). He later resettled in Florida and died on 24 November 1973.